Re: Terminology for composite attributes

From: Gene Wirchenko <>
Date: Fri, 25 Mar 2005 09:14:02 -0800
Message-ID: <>

On Fri, 25 Mar 2005 10:53:18 +0000, Paul <> wrote:

>Gene Wirchenko wrote:
>>>>OK, that works. I like that this term is used with functions and
>>>>graphs too, but I don't like that "arity" sounds a bit pretentious or
>>>>academic. I've never heard a software developer use the term arity,
>>>>even when talking about number of parameters.
>>>I think the etymology of the term is from the endings of "unary",
>>>"binary", "ternary" "denary" etc. Then an "it" was stuck in for some
>>>reason, maybe the word "ary" sounded too silly.
>> "-ity" is a standard suffix. Consider "regular" -> "regularity",
>> "bogus" -> "bogosity", and more.
>Ah, so it's actually from "ary-ity" and the inside "y" was dropped?

     Could be. It might be learned borrowing.

>Sounds plausible. Or maybe there was a noun "binar" with a corresponding
>adjective "binary"?

     Not that I am aware of. Language is a funny thing. For example, the verb "burgle" derives from "burglar", not the reverse as one might expect. (This is the classic example of what is called back formation, derivation occurring in the opposite-to-expected direction).


Gene Wirchenko Received on Fri Mar 25 2005 - 18:14:02 CET

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